After seven years of passionate immersion in civic engagement at Southwestern University and in the community, Suzanne Pukys’ final day at the university was November 23, 2011. Throughout her time at the university, Pukys, formerly known as the Director of Civic Engagement, attempted to involve SU students in a combination of experiential learning and social justice issues.
Pukys is the wife of a Georgetown ISD science teacher and mother of two students who attend Georgetown ISD.She believes that students must make a change in the community that they live in while learning, and actually enjoy it. With that said, in her new position as Community Resources Director at a non-profit agency in Georgetown, she hopes to bridge the gap between this community and Southwestern students.
“This is what I’m supposed to do,” Pukys said. “I loved my job here, and I am leaving to have that same hands-on involvement I want for all students”.
Affectionately known as “Suzy”, Pukys intensely believes that the world of academics should tie in with credit-bearing community service and activism for students. She desires that every person- students, faculty, and staff- engage in partnerships that aid in public policy issues, specifically in the Greater Georgetown and Austin community.
“I consider myself a liaison between students and the community at large,” Pukys said.
Pukys immersed herself in increasing the influence of the Civic Engagement Department at the university. She facilitated SMArT (Science and Math Achiever Team), after its conceptualization by Dr. Romi Burks, Assistant Professor of Biology.
The purpose of SMArT is to provide internship hours and enjoyment to Southwestern University students while bringing them and elementary school children together to work on an inquiry-based project. The goal of these projects is to answer one question about the world while enjoying the process of answering that question.
Examples from previous years include “How do roller coasters work?” and “How do spider webs hold weight?” Most students who go through SMArT are science (biology/pre-med, chemistry) or math (accounting, economics) majors, hence the name of the program.
Pukys considers the SMArT program one of her greatest accomplishments while at Southwestern and hopes that student involvement increases in the near future. For more information about SMArT, please contact former “smartie” and SMArT Day Coordinator, Meredith Liebel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pukys wishes to provide internships via community partners to SU students in their particular area of interest under the realm of the social justice. This includes affordable housing, sexual assault programs, human trafficking, political reformation, religious divisions, etc.
As her passion continued to manifest and intensify, Pukys came up with a new way of unifying learning and activism through applying for and receiving a grant for Southwestern students. She knows from personal experience that her line of work is nearly impossible to fit in an academic semester; therefore, the grant she received allowed ten different students to do paid work in the domestic violence/sexual assault field in efforts to “get their feet wet”, in the social justice sector. The work opportunity would span three consecutive summers.
When Pukys was asked what her favorite thing about Southwestern University is, she passionately said one word: “students”.
“It is my pleasure, honor, and privilege to work with Southwestern students- period,” Pukys said. “Although I am leaving Southwestern, I would like to continue to provide a safe learning space for students and give service opportunities to whoever wants them”.
As she prepares to depart the university, Pukys wanted to say these words by Francis Bacon which is a principle she lives by:
“Lastly, I would address one general admonition to all; that they consider what are the true ends of knowledge, and that they seek it not either for pleasure of the mind, or for contention, or for superiority to others, or for profit, fame, or power, or any of these inferior things; but for the benefit and use of life; and that they perfect and govern it in charity.”
Southwestern University thanks Suzy Pukys for her seven years of service, dedication, and passion for discovering and helping us discover the “true ends of knowledge.”